Saturday, April 10, 2010

LDS Chapel In El Centro, California Loses Its Tower Due To The 7.2 Mexicali Earthquake On Easter Sunday

On April 9th, 2010, Imperial Valley News reports that the city of El Centro is losing two of its more prominent landmarks as a result of the 7.2 earthquake which shook the area on Easter Sunday. Both the water tower and the tower on the local chapel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are coming down. Removal is expected to be completed by April 15th.

The 30-foot church spire at the LDS chapel, which had served as a local landmark for 47 years was taken down on Friday April 9th because of a crack just below the roofline that formed following the quake. A backhoe equipped with what workers called a “breaker” pounded through the center of the tower, while welders broke through reinforcing rebar for nearly a half-hour before the spire was loosened enough to be safely pulled off. A local Church official, David DeSpain, standing by watching the demolition said, “We’ll rebuild the tower, just not as tall.”

A bit more serious is the situation with the water tower. Although the tank at the top of the 150-foot tower has been empty for more than 10 years, it is dangerously close to the nearby Villa Apartments on Wensley Ave., and city water officials discovered that the base of the water tower had become unstable, prompting the evacuation of the apartment complex residents. The tower will not be rebuilt.

According to an Examiner article, El Centro also suffered damage to its water and sewage systems as well as scattered damage to buildings. Overall, Mexico estimates that the earthquake damage will be over $300 million, while California officials announced that structural damages will cost more than $100 million for its state. Mexicali has suffered the brunt of the damage; several thousand aftershocks have hit Mexicali since Sunday, and while most of the aftershocks have been in the 2.2 to 3.9-magnitude range, several larger aftershocks have hit. A new story from the San Diego Union-Tribune provides more details on the human cost.

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